To celebrate National Crime Reading Month, bestselling crime fiction author and Leeds Trinity University PhD student Liz Mistry talks about the genre, why it's popular, and challenges staff and students to read a crime novel this month.
May is National Crime Reading Month and I'm delighted. A whole month dedicated to the genre I write in, what more could I ask for? Some of you may be wondering why an entire month would be dedicated to crime fiction, so here's my take on it.
Crime fiction is a genre that embraces, questions and challenges the status quo. It delves deep into the darkness and refuses to let go, until what is hidden there is exposed in all its rawness. It sees the potential damage humanity can perpetrate against itself and tries to work out why. Yet, simultaneously, the reader is secure in the knowledge that justice, of some sort, will be delivered.
On a cerebral level, crime fiction offers a puzzle for the reader; an answer to be found, a resolution of sorts and it demands the reader's intellectual engagement with the narrative. It is a restorative genre; one which believes that good ultimately triumphs over evil.; one that gives voice to the underdog, the disenfranchised the weak and the exploited. It invites the reader into a darker world than they inhabit themselves and allows them to choose, just how dark they'll go.
The range of crime fiction out there is phenomenal; from supernatural and fantasy crime to romantic and psychological crime or from Noir to Cosy or legal to thriller, there is something for everyone. The reader can choose their comfort zone and read within it. Personally, I prefer grittier, darker fiction, but, on occasion, I love a good Agatha Raisin or a psychological thriller.
As a crime writer, I'm fascinated by the good that exists in the world, however, I'm equally fascinated by the bad. Like all writers before me and those still to come, human nature and its idiosyncrasies drives me forward in a quest to make sense of my world. What motivates people to commit the most heinous acts, what compels them to step onto the dark side, what triggers could force a normal person to commit an appalling act?
My challenge to you is this: Pick up (or download on your kindle) a crime fiction book this month. I promise you there is something in this genre for each of you. But beware though, crime Ffiction is strangely addictive!
Also, look out around campus, you may see that the crime fiction fairy has left a little surprise for you.